Anti-war protesters in London show their support for Ukraine in a demonstration this week.
On Monday, Etsy CEO Josh Silverman announced the company was canceling the current balances owed to Etsy by all sellers in Ukraine. This includes listing fees, transaction fees, advertising fees, and more. The move extends to Ukraine-based sellers in all Etsy marketplaces — including Etsy.com, Depop and Reverb — represents a contribution of approximately $4 million from the company.
“The events unfolding in Ukraine weigh heavily on us all," Silverman wrote on the company's blog. "Being part of a community means that when one part is suffering, the rest of us must step up and offer our support. To do our part, we’ve reached out to sellers in the region to ensure they know how to access help with their accounts or place their shops on hold during this difficult time.”
This isn’t the first time that Etsy has put its social conscience on display. In the early days of the pandemic in 2020, Etsy launched its Stand With Small campaign to support small businesses. The goal was to keep the selling platform up and running for people who make products in their home, even as the country was on lockdown.
Etsy has also helped U.S. sellers impacted by natural disasters such as Hurricane Harvey in 2017 by offering deferred payments and assistance with shop management.
Fortunately, Etsy is one of a growing number of U.S. and international corporations that have chosen financial empathy and solidarity with Ukraine, even temporarily suspending profit. The old adage of the cold, uncaring big business enterprise is becoming obsolete as a new chapter of community engagement and corporate social responsibility is being written. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, name brands have made their position of support for Ukraine known, backed by words and deeds.
For example, Disney and Sony have stopped all theatrical film releases in Russia. Oil companies BP and Shell divested from Russian-owned gas companies. Mastercard and Visa blocked Russian financial institutions that had sanctions levied against them. Airbnb announced it would provide free short-term housing for 100,000 Ukrainian refugees. T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon said they will waive charges within Ukraine and on calls to and from the country.
Significantly, a Morning Consult poll published Monday shows that 75 percent of U.S. adults support companies cutting ties with Russia, including not selling their products or services in the country. Nearly 80 percent support companies financially helping Americans in Ukraine to return home or otherwise assisting their employees who live in Ukraine, and 76 percent want companies to donate to the Ukrainian people.
Employees of corporations have to come to rely on employee charitable giving campaigns as the bedrock of the social conscience of an organization. Employees have an expectation of engagement in the community that originates from the workplace. And corporations, with a renewed focus on social responsibility, meet employees at the intersection of this shared priority through actions such as the boycotts and restrictions imposed on business relationships with Russia, and the aid rendered to the people of Ukraine.
Another upside of this benevolence manifests in terms of attracting and retaining good employees. A 2020 survey from Porter Novelli found that 70 percent of employees say they wouldn’t work for a company without a strong social purpose. Almost all employees reported feeling more inspired, motivated and loyal to companies that exhibit these qualities.
Corporations increase their social impact in direct proportion to the importance they place on community engagement and employee participation in acts of charity. Etsy and others that assume leadership roles in charitable giving and social responsibility reap the benefits of employee satisfaction and realizing the positive impact they have within their communities.
Image credit: Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona/Unsplash
Gloria Johns' career has included her work as a columnist for Scripps-Howard, Gannett and Tribune News Service. She writes for the San Angelo Standard Times and the West Texas Angelus. Previously she was a special features reporter for San Angelo LIVE! Gloria also has nearly thirty years of award-winning grant writing experience for federal, state and county funds to support social, medical, educational and arts projects. She has enjoyed a successful career in telecommunications and nonprofit management. "Gloria is a Purdue University graduate. She has also attended Angelo State University for graduate courses and studied Texas Family Law at Sam Houston State University. She lives just on the edge of the Chihuahua desert in west Texas.